Weaning from breastfeeding (whether you’re exclusively pumping or nursing) should mean no more milk in your breasts, right? Not always – here’s what you need to know about leaking after weaning.
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Leaking after weaning is not uncommon
After several people mentioned to me that they were frustrated with continuing to leak milk after weaning, I did an unscientific poll on my instagram stories to see how common it was.
Almost half of the 4,000 respondents said that they leaked after weaning, while 24% said that they leaked for more than a few days.
How long does the leaking last?
For those that continued to leak, I asked how long it lasted.
Of those that continued leaking past a few days, 46% stopped within a week, while 29% took up to a month.
Unfortunately, 25% continued to leak longer than a month.
What causes leaking after weaning?
While you’re lactating, your prolactin levels are high. Prolactin is a hormone that causes your breasts to grow during puberty and pregnancy, and to make milk after birth.
After birth, prolactin levels start out quite high. During supply regulation, they level out somewhat, but remain elevated.
After weaning, prolactin levels normally drop significantly within 24 hours. However, it’s possible that the timing/degree of the drop in prolactin may vary from person to person.
High prolactin levels that occur a year past weaning is a condition called galactorrhea. If you continue to leak breast milk past a year, you should see a doctor to determine if your prolactin levels remain elevated and what the cause may be.
What can you do to stop leaking after breastfeeding?
First, if this is something that is concerning you or bothering you, I would recommend seeing a doctor. There’s no need to wait for a full year if you are worried or something just doesn’t seem right.
On your own, there isn’t much that you can do to stop the leaking, though some women that I polled said that starting combination birth control after they weaned may have helped. (Birth control with estrogen may negatively affect lactation.)
Other than that, your best bet may be wearing a breast liner or breast pads when visibly leaking would be a problem (such as at work). Hopefully, it will stop soon.
Have you leaked after weaning from breastfeeding? Tell us your experience in the comments!
- “Galactorrhea (Milk Discharge).” American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2012/0601/p1073-s1.html
- Uvnäs-Moberg K, Widström AM, Werner S, Matthiesen AS, Winberg J. Oxytocin and prolactin levels in breast-feeding women. Correlation with milk yield and duration of breast-feeding. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1990;69(4):301-6. doi: 10.3109/00016349009036151. PMID: 2244461. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2244461/